Situated at the Gates of Nantes is the Château Goulaine, the truly awe-inspiring 16th-century building that houses the country’s oldest wine business. The finest vintages of Chardonnay, Sancerre and Vouvray may be purchased on the site and your interests are of a strictly teetotal nature there is the grandeur of the limestone walls, the mediaeval moat and the view from the ramparts of some 3,000 acres of Goulaine wetlands.
The Château itself was largely constructed in the 15th century on foundations of a castle that dated from the early Middle Ages and some visitors will notice that the Goulaine coats of arms bear leopards and fleurs de Lys. This is because Jean de Goulaine, the Captain of Nantes, served as a go-between for the Kings of England and France -and as a reward for his services in restoring peace Henri IV awarded him the title of Marquis.
The Château is still the home to the Goulaines and the current marquis has spent over thirty years developing his justly famous butterfly farm. When you enter the hothouse, you will be in a world dominated by butterflies from all parts of the globe that fly completely free between the tropical plants. These And once you finally, and reluctantly left this absolute riot of colour, there is the opportunity to see one of Europe’s most offbeat museums – a celebration of the region’s famous Lu biscuit.